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Smith Rock Climbers injured by Monkey Face swing stunt

Smith Rock Fall Victim in Fair Condition
One Tumbled 85 Feet, Now In Serious Condition
By Barney Lerten,
July 9, 2011
Two Smith Rock climbers were injured Saturday afternoon, one critically, after a rope that swung across the face of Monkey Face struck them, causing them to lose their balance and fall up to 85 feet, authorities said.

As it turned out, the pair already had climbed Monkey Face, a recognizable feature of the well-known climbing spot, and had rappelled down to the base when the accident happened around 1 p.m., said Deschutes
County sheriff’s Deputy Mike Biondi, assistant Search and Rescue coordinator.

Elizabeth Redmond, 29, of Oakland, Calif., was flown by AirLink helicopter to St. Charles Medical Center-Bend, where she was listed in critical condition late Saturday night, but a nursing supervisor said had
improved to serious condition Sunday morning -- and was in fair condition Monday.

Lee Dingemans, 28, of Minneapolis, was treated at the scene and was able to walk down the trail on his own, the deputy said.

Officials learned the two had climbed Monkey Face, then rappelled to the base. As they gathered their gear, another climber swung on the “rope swing” attached to Money Face -- and while swinging, grabbed a
rappel rope previously anchored to the top of the feature, Biondi said. His momentum caused the rappel rope to move across the rock face, hitting Redmond and Dingemans in the lower legs and causing them to lose their balance and fall, Biondi said.

Witnesses said Redmond fell 10 feet, then rolled another 75 down the hill. Dingemans also fell about 10 feet, then rolled another 20 feet downhill, Biondi said.

Sheriff’s 911 dispatchers got a call around 1 p.m. to report the accident, initially believed to be one climber. As units responded to the call, it was learned two climbers had fallen near Monkey Face, Biondi said.

A sheriff’s deputy and a dozen Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue members, including medics and mountain rescue personnel, responded to the scene, along with Redmond Fire Department paramedics, he said.

The two climbers were stabilized by paramedics, and Redmond was taken by wheeled litter about a half-mile down the trail and across the Crooked River by rubber raft. Dingemans, treated at the scene, was able to
walk down and also was taken across the river, later released to friends.

Other rock climbers say while this accident was quite unusual, it serves as a reminder to everyone out there climbing to be aware of others. around you.

"Obviously, it's not like going to Shevlin Park, and going walking the river trail," Mountain Supply worker Jesper Hilts said Sunday. "There's a lot of loose rock up there, and there's a lot of terrain that inevitably could
cause you to fall.""I mean, you hear stories of people falling off Misery Ridge at Smith Rock all the time," Hilts added. "But this specific story was pretty amazing. You actually don't think that things like that would ever happen."


Discussion on of this Smith Rock accident below Monkey Face
A total of 85 comments were posted. Selected posts are copied below for analysis

jack herer
Sport climber
Veneta, Oregon
Author's Original Post - July 10, 2011

I don't normally choose to post stuff like this. But this really kinda bothers me. A climber was critically injured and luckily not killed as a result of another "climber" in a totally different party attempting to do the Monkey Face "Swing" on a crowded Saturday in the park.

Monkey Face over the past year or so has been turning into an amusement park with all this slacklining, and wanting to be the next Dan O. Now I love that these guys are psyched and am friends with lots of them, but it
seems like maybe you have to draw the line somewhere. Smith Rock is especially unique in the fact that there are no imposed climbing regulations in a state park. Its stuff like this that changes that though. Anyways
I'd be curious to hear what other peoples thoughts are, but please keep the spray out of here, there is a woman laying in a hospital bed in critical condition right now this isn't a joke.

Social climber
July 10, 2011
"Officials learned the two had climbed Monkey Face, then rappelled to the base. As they gathered their gear, another climber swung on the “rope swing” attached to Money Face -- and while swinging, grabbed a
rappel rope previously anchored to the top of the feature, Biondi said.

His momentum caused the rappel rope to move across the rock face, hitting Redmond and Dingemans in the lower legs and causing them to lose their balance and fall, Biondi said.

Witnesses said Redmond fell 10 feet, then rolled another 75 down the hill. Dingemans also fell about 10 feet, then rolled another 20 feet downhill, Biondi said."

It will be interesting to hear the details of this accident as they emerge. Difficult to know exactly what happened other then Redmond & Dingemans were surely in the wrong place at the wrong time when Person-on-
Swing did his/her thing.

Bad business when the crags are crowded and worse still when people are not being mindful of what they are doing & how it impacts others.

I hope Elizabeth Redmond heals well and that if there is liability, that it is placed upon the guilty person(s).

I also hope climbers police themselves so gov't doesn't impose restrictions. That never works.

July 10, 2011
You'll never completely avoid accidents in a place as crowded as Smith Jack. Many more callouts happen for hikers, than for climbers. It tends to be noobs that are doing things to get hurt (generally), and it won't
stop. I don't even think it's too bad given the amount of folks there. What is the state going to do: close the entire park to the public (hikers, tourists, and climbers)? Then close all public parks (and this one in
particular, unlike some others, is a money maker), then close everything that can create an issue or accident anywhere? Skateparks? Public restrooms? What else? Nope, won't happen, it's a public park, and
anywhere you have the public you'll have stuff crop up. Folks tossing girlfriends off of cliffs, putting a shotgun to there heads and pulling the trigger rather than jump, etc etc.

These kinds of things are all over the place. I was doing the El Cap swing not too long ago (thanks Ritche!!! Woot!!!!) There's 2 on the Captain and the traverse off Lost Arrow is about the same kind of gig. Fun.

Hope it all works out for the injured climber. Another reminder (that we didn't need) to be heads up. Take care all!

Trad climber
Greater Boss
Angeles area
July 10, 2011

I've never been to Smith. I assumed the Monkey Swing was a pendulum traverse, or something. It's not.

What are you guys doing up there? Six Flags Over Oregon?

chris vaughan
bend, or
July 11, 2011
"Smith Rock Fall Victim in Fair Condition
One Tumbled 85 Feet, Now In Serious Condition
By Barney Lerten, KTVZ.COM
UPDATED: July 11, 2011

I know its confusing, but it looks like they have upgraded her condition as of this afternoon. Go Liz!"

Via the FB it appears that the anchors to this swing have been removed. Also as of today.

I'm pretty familiar with the logistics of the swing and its proximity to the main rappel anchors. Do to the fact that there is always "more to the story" I'm not gonna jump on any bandwagons and pass judgement on the
incident; I won't comment on the anchor removal until I hear the person's ethos or rationale.... whatever. Although I'm not happy about it, I respect the guy and want to hear him out.

That being said, in my view, Smith has been a carnival for 30 years or more. Plastic holds, shotgun pranks, keggers, the list goes on. This whole thing is unfortunate and it appears that two people have been
victimized by another persons carelessness or recklessness.

Wow, internet is fast, just looked back and there's Ian. How about it?

Sport climber
Redmond, Oregon
July 11, 2011

Bolts were removed today. The swing is gone.

July 11, 2011
I haven't been able to shake the want to correct what the paper got wrong. Not a huge error, but because I was standing right there talking to them when it happened, I wanted to lend my eye witness account.

The newspaper said the rope hit them in the lower legs and they lost their balance. Later in the article a deputy talks about the dangers of people falling off Misery Ridge because of loose rock.

The quick and accurate version is this: the rope tied to the bottom of the swing's rap line, that ran back up to the diving board lay across the ledge we were all standing on. When the guy on the swing jumped, my
partner was almost up the first pitch, and I was talking to Lee and Liz who'd just rapped down. When the guy on the swing grabbed his rap line, the rope tied to the diving board didn't "hit them and make them lose
their balance." They were run off the ledge, at a full sprint, right passed me, with the rope at their backs and slammed face first (she was wearing her helmet) into the ledge 15 feet below before rolling down the talus
their respective distances (my guess is that her pack made her roll farther/faster, he didn't have his on yet). The rope did hit me in the back of the legs, but I was anchored, as I should have been with a climber on
belay. They were a minute from walking away, which is why they were rightfully not anchored. Had the guy on the swing jumped 5 minutes before, it would have been all four of us, 2 minutes after, it would have been

The first thing you hope after something like this is that everyone is okay, (she was updated from serious to fair condition today). The second is that we all get smarter because of it. I don't know much about the swing, but I do know that that ledge was part of their site, and they had not secured it. I hope that they think it all the way through next time.

My best to Elizabeth and Lee.

July 11, 2011
It was less of a chase or avoidance or even a whip. You know when someone pushes your back and you take a step forward? It was like that, but on speed. Lee had his shirt off and a brutal rope burn that I saw on his mid back when he hit the second ledge.

They were doing it differently on Saturday then in the video you shared, MisterE. They had a separate rap line that was part of a loop back to the diving board. So it wasn't that they were whipped by the end of a
rope, they were caught in the force of the swinger on his second pass, grabbing a looped system. It's like they were flung with no choice but to move their feet. Does that make more sense?

Yeah, the east side, scramble up to the notch, the pitch before the bolt ladder. That's the right photo, MisterE.

Trad climber
Portland, OR
July 12, 2011
I was climbing on Monkey Face with a friend that day, actually following the two victims as all four of us climbed Monkey Space. We opted to bail on the last pitch and instead rappelled down from the far anchors in
the West Cave in order to play around on Northwest Corner via toprope. After our rap, we set up on the belay ledge and my partner began climbing.

He had made it about 20 feet above the belay ledge when I heard a woosh, similar to a rope being pulled, and a man screaming "YEAAAAHHHHH" I look up and from around the corner (Eastern sharp corner on
Monkey Face) I see a man falling straight toward me, face first. Needless to say this instantly rang "This is wrong" in my mind. I realized he was on a swing and as he swung around I was already judging his stupidity
for pulling such unannounced antics on a busy cliff in the park with plenty of people around. We ourselves could have easily be taken out by his swing, and just the shock of seeing someone flying at you from above
could have caused some other unwarranted falls on the face.

He swung around two or three times, yelling happily to someone how he usually can catch his rappel line on one or two tries. He finally did catch his tag line, and as he did I heard a man yell in panic (another witness
who I can see is on the Misery Ridge trail, on his way to the base of MF). What came next was the sound of a body hitting rock, and scree falling down the slope below. The actual mechanism of the victims'
entanglement in the line and their first fall was out of our line of sight, but I soon saw a female climber tumbling down the scree and boulder-ridden slope below us; eventually coming to an unconscious halt directly
beneath (~100ft) below us.

The man on the swing began yelling remarks like "Oh no!" "I didn't think of that" "No, they weren't with me!". There was a class of teenagers doing the Tyrolean to the mouth cave who undoubtedly saw the incident, I
presume he was talking to them.

We quickly prepared for our rappel down to help in the situation and to distance ourselves from the madman on the swing. As we readied ourselves, many bystanders below began to aid the two victims (one at below
us unconscious, one out of our sight further up the slope). There appeared to be a trained nurse and others with first-aid know-how. 911 was called immediately.

The slope below us was covered in loose rock, and there was fear from the people helping below that our rap could send more rockfall down on the victim. We were told to stay on our belay ledge until the victim could
be moved. We complied, and had a bird's eye view of the rescue process.

It was nearly two hours until the female victim, who was in very critical condition, was removed from the scene. Search and rescue took an hour to arrive at the location, and their attitude toward the situation (from my
view) was not as urgent or prepared as the situation warranted. A helicopter was flown in at about 90 minutes after the accident, but across the river so transporting her took much much longer than it should have. The
SAR team seemed inexperienced and very slow.

After the female victim was moved (2 hours after her fall), we made our rappel and quickly left the wall. Done for the day we headed to the Terrebonne Depot, where we ran into other climbers who had heard of the
accident; including two acquaintances of the man on the rope swing. His name is John, and evidently had been talking of doing the rope swing that weekend to others. The people who knew him said they knew it was
a very bad idea to do such a stunt on a busy summer weekend. He did it anyways.

That was my view of the accident, best wishes for the victims' recovery. It's a shame that they were at no fault for this incident. They seemed to have had a great time on Monkey Space, it's too bad that that
experience was eclipsed by someone else's poor decisions.

Trad climber
Yacolt, WA
July 12, 2011

In terms of criticizing the SAR response, keep in mind that they are volunteers. They do not sit in a station ready to respond to a call.

The sheriff determines that there is a need for a technical rescue and calls the team. That may take time. The team then pages its volunteers to come in from whatever activity they were engaged in. So the volunteer
may be 30 minutes up a trail with their family and now needs to get home, get their gear and report. They are briefed and then move into the field. Some may be comfortable on cliffs yet concerned about showering
more debris on already injured patients, while others may be on the team for their medical skills, navigation skills, etc. Most never were or will ever be good techincal climbers. However, they do know how to move a
battered victim without causing more damage or creating more patients.

Helicopters are quite tricky, and resources are very scarce with the wars taking most military resources out of the NW. Dust, snow, cliffs all present hazards which may cause a helicopter to crash. Victims being
transported by choppers have been in choppers that went down, and their families have sued for plenty. So if the chopper won't land near a dusty scree slope, there is probably a very good reason why. The boat
across the river saves hours of moving the litter back towards the bridge.

During an operation, many folks may not have a task to do at that moment in time. They may be waiting for the patient to be assessed, packaged, another part of the system to be set up, etc. It is as agonizing for
them to be still for a moment as it is for you to watch someone suffer. The banter between them helps them deal with a very stressful situation. From the many missions I have participated on, it always seems to take
forever. But the medics are doing everything they can to ensure that the patient won't be further injured, and they really want to reduce the pain with meds if they can.

If you think you can improve the overall rescue operation, then join. My husband and I plan to do so when we move to Redmond full time in a couple of years.

Bend, OR.
July 12, 2011

Thanks Seamstress for the defense. I volunteer with DCSSAR (Deschutes County Sheriff's Search and Rescue). We had folks on scene in about an hour. Getting there in that hour is damn good considering the drive from Bend is 1/2 an hour. Adding the time for callouts, assembling, deploying, and hiking in......!!!

Crossing the river is by far the fastest and easiest way to access this area. The hike over Misery Ridge with the gear needed would take considerably longer. And we do two or three missions every year in this area,
mostly hikers twisting of breaking ankles on the switchbacks.

And without re-saying what seamstress said about the Hello....she's absolutely correct.

Seamstress.....If you're interested in joining us, lemme know:



Climbing Monkey Face at Smith Rock State Park in 2002




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Mountain climbing has inherent dangers that can, only in part, be mitigated

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